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Judie Messier Interviews Sonoma County
Round ONE

GETTING TO KNOW THE PEOPLE OF SONOMA COUNTY

The Sonoma County Gazette has decided to launch a long-running column on getting to know the people of Sonoma County. 

WHY DO THIS PROJECT

Sonoma County is remarkable in how much folks care about the character of Sonoma County – its rural character, its small town character, its agriculture, its natural resources.  At the same time, there are pressures underneath this.  The pressures of Preservation versus the pressures of Development

The pressures of preserving agriculture and natural resources and small town character in the face of economic and development insecurities – versus – the pressures of containing bulging urban and population growth within mandated urban space boundaries.  And underneath all of this is the issue of water. 

It is our thought that if the water situation degenerates to the point that authorities establish mandatory water restrictions, conflict could emerge if people feel that those water restrictions threaten their way of life.  When folks feel that their way of life is threatened, they tend to cluster with like folks and distance themselves from others, like oil dropped in water.  The degree of distance between clusters is contingent upon the degree of perceived threat.  And the greater the degree of perceived threat, the more quickly the conflict escalates to the extremes, exposing everyone to pain and suffering before the conflict is resolved.

One of the things that mitigates against the escalation of conflict is what are called boundary-spanning individuals.  These are folks who are either members of many different clusters or are respected across clusters.

The more folks actually know other folks throughout the County, the greater the likelihood of there being boundary-spanning individuals who could mitigate the emergence of conflict.

And this brings us full circle to the decision of the Gazette to launch this long-running column on getting to know the people of Sonoma County.  It is our hope that readers will feel invited to get to know folks from throughout Sonoma County – folks representing the full diversity of Sonoma County and whom they might otherwise never have had the opportunity to get to know – and that out of this reservoir might emerge folks who would be seen as boundary-spanners should there be conflict.

WHO IS DOING THE INTERVIEWS

My name is Judie Messier.  I have a PhD in Conflict and Conflict Resolution.  By profession, I am a facilitator of conflict resolution.

More than a year ago, I fell in love with Sonoma County..!!  This project emerged out of that love, and it is my hope that I can be of service to the people of Sonoma County in doing this pro bono project.

WHO GETS INTERVIEWED

In order to begin the interviews, we assembled a beginning list of folks from throughout Sonoma County from the county level on down to the local level who had either already been impacted by the water drought and/or who would be impacted by water restrictions.  For Round One, we started with folks at the county level.  For subsequent rounds, we will reach out to increasingly local levels throughout the county. 

To that end, if YOU have any ideas of folks you think should or could be interviewed – or if YOU want to be interviewed – please email me at jymessier@aol.com.  Round Two will be in January 2015, Round Three probably in May 2015, and so on.

HOW THE INTERVIEWS WORK

For the interviews, I meet with each person who agrees to be interviewed.  I ask each person the same set of questions, and have them write their answers to the questions on 3x5 cards.  In addition each person is asked to submit, if they can, a cellphone photo that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Finally, I ask each person for suggestions for others to be interviewed.

After the interview, their answers are transcribed verbatim, without revision. Each person’s interview and photo will be published on the Gazette’s website.  In addition, for each Round, the answers to each of the questions will be accumulated into a summary document that will be published on the Gazette’s website. 

Finally, a short collection of representative answers from each Round will be published in the Gazette. 

WHO GOT INTERVIEWED IN ROUND ONE SEPTEMBER 22-29, 2014.

Interviews are posted below in the following order:

Bill Williams, BoDean Company (10)

Brittany Heck, Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District (07)

Bruce Berry, Berry's Sawmill (23)

Denny Rosatti, Sonoma County Conservation Action (14)

Efren Carrillo, Sonoma County Supervisor (11)

Grant Davis, Sonoma County Water Agency (19)

Honore Comfort, Sonoma County Vintners (04)

Jane Nielson, OWL Foundation (03)

John Crowley, Aqus Café (20)

Joseph McIntyre, Ag Innovations Network (08)

Kara Heckert, Sonoma Resource Conservation District (22)

Ken Fischang, Sonoma County Tourism (17)

Noreen Evans, California State Senator (21)

E. Orlean Koehle, Eagle Forum of California (12)

Stephen Fuller-Rowell, Sonoma County Water Coalition (18)

Susan Shaw, North Bay Organizing Project (06)

Tom Klein, Rodney Strong Vineyards (05)

Tony Linegar, Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner (15)

Vesta Copestakes, Sonoma County Gazette (01)

Wendy Krupnick, Community Alliance with Family Farmers (02)

 

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE ROUND ONE INTERVIEWS

I feel honored to have been able to bear witness to the deep concern and caring that people have for their Sonoma County..!!  In this summary, I will provide some representative answers to each question – and will hopefully tease you to read both the summary of all of the Round One interviews as well as each individual interview. 

The first question asked folks what was their relationship to Sonoma County.  Their answers revealed a wide range of relationships to Sonoma County. 

- This is my home.  My children were born here.  My friends and family live here.  It is the connection of one heart to one place. 
- My relationship is one of love and strong belief that we live in the best place on earth.
- Lifelong resident.
- I live and work here.  I am invested in the people and kind of society we are.  I want us to become a county that includes and cares for everyone who lives in it.
- Current General Manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency.

When asked how they felt about this interview, their answers spanned a full range of feelings.

- Neutral.
- I don’t know how I feel about this interview. 
- Just fine.
- I feel comfortable with the interview, excited with the prospects of how it’s to be used, and curious as to what questions are to come next....
- Interested, open, honored
- I really hope that all these interviews achieve the goal they were set out to meet.

When asked next how they saw the water situation in Sonoma County right now, their answers revealed a broad range of perceptions of the water situation.

- It is dire and will get worse.
- As of today (Sept 23, 2014), we are in a drought that has people worrying and trying to plan for water scarcity in the present and into the future.
- California is in a historic drought and even the normally water abundant North Coast has not been spared.  I do not see us having a “situation” as much as ongoing opportunity to ask the question, how can we best shepherd the valuable resources nature provides.  This naturally and necessarily requires us to make choices, some of which challenge our current lifestyles or expectations.
- Our water situation is a serious concern statewide.  Here in Sonoma County we are fortunate to still have water in our rivers and for our residents & visitors.
- Personally, it has not affected me or my husband or neighbors.  We share a well with 13 other families.  It does not seem to be affecting our water level. 

When asked how they felt about the current water situation in Sonoma County, their answers revealed a range of feelings.

- Frightened, worried, frustrated, angry. 
- Concerned.
- I’m optimistic and distraught at the same time.  The drought brings the issue to the surface, so hopefully we can make some progress while the air is dry.
- Engaged – water is a wonderful vehicle for us to have conversations about the Future of the County.
- Every crisis offers an opportunity, so I am hopeful we will use this chance to find sustainable solutions.

When asked what would be the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County, their answers revealed a very wide range of potential worst possible outcomes.

- If water quantity issues are not addressed, creeks will continue to go dry, groundwater levels will fall, species will disappear, and economic impacts will be felt.  If water quality issues are not addressed, there will be further impacts on species & human health problems will increase.
- We run out – no agriculture – bad for business – hostile environment for survival – reservoirs do not recharge in winter – groundwater does not recharge. 
- The worst outcome is not having enough water for basic human needs.  If conditions persist, we may have to sacrifice many of the things we take for granted.
- Water wars.  
_ If not resolved, people & businesses will be forced to relocate.  It is an issue our supervisors need to address. 
- A few people controlling water in service of their interests, and the rest suffering for lack of access to water.
- The worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County is that we leave a big mess for the future generation to clean up. 
- That we have a year or two of heavy rain, that we develop the false sense that we are out of the situation.

When asked how they felt about the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County,  their answers expressed a full range of emotions.

-I feel anger – when will people make the connection from water to actions and consequences.  
- Sad, frightened, disappointed. 
- I feel concern yet believe there are things that we can do to lessen or mitigate the negative consequences.
- We are a long way from this now, but we need to wake up!  
- I feel like I’d like to give a great amount of energy and attention to assisting our community to make plans for their water security in a way that doesn’t harm their neighbors, the future residents, or the environment.  
- I have no intention of sitting on the sidelines and allowing these outcomes to occur. 

When asked what would be the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, their answers ranged from transformation of the environment to transformation of how people work together.

- “The big balance” is achieved or satisfied, and we find sustainability in our water balance or budget.
- Normal rainfalls return.  With our water usage curtailed voluntarily, we have plenty of water.   
- The best possible outcome in working together is one where we can sustain a long-term water supply, protect & enhance our entire watershed, & create a balance between competing interests.  This is a vision whereby our environment thrives, as does our local economy. 
- Creating a means to work together to build a long-term plan for water management for Sonoma County, that serves the needs of our region, and also serves as a model for dialogue, collaboration, and community-based problem solving, which is something that Sonoma County would benefit from.  This region is so diverse, that it can be challenging to find the common threads that pull us together. 
- Pro-active solutions can be created when we all realize that the majority of people want the same things.  Effectively managing our water resources now will help us for many generations. 

When asked what were all the reasons people would give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome, their answers ranged from characteristics of the situation to characteristics of the people.

- Costs too much money:  this is usually the excuse used to preserve the status quo.  Taxes will go up.  It won’t work.
- Folks may feel there is not enough water to meet all the current and future demands for water supply.  Folks may believe that important needs will go unmet if other needs are fully met.  Folks may feel we lack the political will to properly balance the many competing interests.  
- Lack of transparency; imbalance of power; narrow self-interest; greed. _ Too litigious.  Too overwhelming.  Not enough funding.  Too many compromises.  Too scary.  Next year will be different.  Not my problem.
- Conflicting interests from different sides of the water issue appear at odds, and finding the grounds for resolution can be extremely challenging and frustrating.  
- Some people might say “this is the government’s fault.  They should have provided more reservoirs to store water in times of drought.  Therefore, I am not going to do anything they tell me to do and fight all their policies.”  Others might say “this is my property & my water and no one has the right to dictate to me what I can or cannot do with it.” 

When asked about the new beliefs and behaviors folks would need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen, their answers ranged from beliefs and behavior about the environment to beliefs and behaviors about people.

- Conservation is not a dirty word.  Sustainability should be a key focus on how we do business and on decisions we make for our planet’s future.   
- That climate change, in our present situation, is the result of man’s activity.  Therefore, we can do something about it.  That where there is a will, there is a way.  By working together, we can solve this situation we are in with water.   
- That water is a precious resource that sustains us.  That water must be used and reused efficiently.  Investing in our natural resources will help secure our future.  We must develop alternative supplies of water, in addition to surface water.  We need to invest in recycled water, water conservation, groundwater management, and restoring our natural resources and fisheries.  
- We have to learn to listen and understand each other.  Sometimes that takes time and energy; it almost always requires patience.  We also have to be willing to try something new, not just comfortably fall into our usual patterns of distrust or allegiances. 
- To seek out information; to listen and engage in discussion; to work across functions and disciplines; to ask questions; to work towards solutions and engage in creative problem solving.  While some of this is already going on, with complex community issues such as water management, there is always room for more people to increase their understanding of the positions and issues at stake.

When asked about strategies and actions that would reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen, their answers ranged from strategies and actions about the environment to strategies and actions about people.

- All users need to first understand the options for reducing water usage (at home, workplace. government) & then change their behaviors accordingly. 
- Increased use of gray water & recycled water.   Drought tolerant landscaping.  More rain catchment systems for residential uses.  Relaxing regulatory hurdles to facilitate more storage for the state & on the farm.  Increased conservation efforts, particularly in residential use.  
- Change modes of evaluating land uses – from County PRMD (Permit & Resource Management Department) to landowners and even squatters.  For example, change permitting systems.  
- Those with knowledge & understanding must be willing to engage in collaborative process, and never be unwilling to speak up and take action to ensure that vital issues are considered and resolved.  Apathy is not an option. 
- Voluntary programs and incentives have a proven track record of success and we need wider spread opportunities for those throughout the county.  Greater dialogue with diverse groups of folks that have a desire to build a consensus around water use could be very productive.  
- A well informed and incentified public can be very powerful.  Tracking Sonoma County’s progress towards resolving our water shortage & retraining behaviors can be a rewarding process.  If we are able to track progress and show the residents & visitors how they have made a positive impact, this will be motivational.

When asked, if folks worked together now to confront the water situation, what would be their vision of Sonoma County in 20 years, their answers revealed a wide range of visions.

- That Sonoma County will not only be able to meet its own needs in 20 years, but that it will have designed itself to provide for the needs of future growth in population & needs.
- Clean tributaries & rivers.  Clean lakes, which are full.  Clean air.  A balance of food and vineyard agricultural products.  Controlled development based on water available.  Clear laws and rules re: water use. 
- 1. Not just water issue.  2. I see SoCo as being a model with a more equitable society that will be a safer, happier, healthier community.
- Community-government partnerships would examine all land use plans, and suggest changes that preserve land stability & water supplies.  County processes would require precise scientific evaluations and outside-County reviews before granting permits.  The groundwater management processes are a beginning but there is no obvious reason yet for people involved to see this as a step toward rational management. 
- No idea.  I feel that all bets are off with climate change.  My hope is that riparian corridors are restored & enhanced; vineyards diversify; there are zero lawns that are not actively used; composting toilets are the norm; there are mini biological water recycling facilities all over; oak trees & other native vegetation are regenerating; vegetables are growing in community gardens in every urban neighborhood. 

When asked how they felt about this vision, their answers revealed that they felt good about their vision..!

- I love this vision!  
- I feel that this vision can and will become a reality.)
- The seeds of community are already sprouting in SoCo.  The idea of creating something new is already happening.  People are not sure exactly what it looks like but they know that we need to move away from the old paradigms and invent new practices.  The old ways have not served us well.

When asked what would be the first step that would need to be taken to realize that vision, their answers offered a wide range of ideas.

- It is already happening.  Sonoma County is a leader in groundwater management planning.  Our citizens & business are working hard to manage water well.  What we all can do is think about conservation at home, at work, and on the farm and ranch.  Finally, we can rewrite the California water script.  Water is a public necessity and we should not allow the dialogue about Sonoma County water to be driven by narrow interests who want to divide us between conservation or business/agricultural interests.  This is a place where each of us can stand up as a leader and a peacemaker.  
_ 1st step – education and awareness. ) 
- Sonoma County will need to redouble our efforts to educate the current and future generations about the importance of our water supply; where it originates; and how we must use it wisely and efficiently.  We also need to continue to invest in the infrastructure and the delivery system and in protecting and restoring the watershed.   
- The first step is pulling together people and leaders from different aspects of our community who share a strong commitment to realizing a future vision for Sonoma County.  
- Laws.  Fines for violating water laws.  High prices for water so it has the real value attached to cost.

When asked what was something they could do right now to make that vision happen, they also had a lot of ideas:
- Participate in this interview project!  
- We are looking at all locations we use water & trying to reduce amount used everywhere.  
- Start a series of talks on new way of governance.  
- For my part, I will continue to help ensure that initial progress towards solutions continues. 
- The RCD is a resource hub and we work on both sides of the fence and with a lot of people that don’t have a voice at the table.  We could assist in bringing groups together around this dialogue where it’s not already happening.

And finally, folks were asked how they felt about the interview now?- - Fine.  
- Hopeful and encouraged.
- I feel as though I have spoken in broad general terms, and not given many specifics, but think that framing the issue in broad terms helps people realize the scope of the challenge that we face & hopefully helps to change the mindset with an eye to the future.  
- Don’t like the writing.  Do like the thought-provoking subject matter.
- It is a start.  The questions assume a coming battle.  I believe we can and will find a positive way through to shared water stewardship.
- Still feel very good about the interview & what it could mean in years to come.  Certainly hope what is learned & conveyed through this process is useful in bringing us closer together to address one of the most important issues of our time.   

 

INTERVIEWS - Round One

Bill Williams, manager BoDean Company (suppliers of sand,  gravel,  concrete, and asphalt)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?
If I had to choose anywhere to live in California, it would be Sonoma County.  I guess that is why I live here.  The people, the beauty, the wine, it’s all good.

How do you feel about this interview?
Fine.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?How do you feel about it?
The situation is dire, depending somewhat upon where you live.  Although we’ve experienced droughts before, I believe this drought is directly related to Climate Change.  Therefore, we will be confronting years of heavy rain followed by sustained years of severe drought.  Knowing this, we need to conserve, store, & develop new conveyance systems to our infrastructure.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County? How do you feel about it?
That we have a year or two of heavy rain, and we develop the false sense that we are out of the situation.  Related to my previous response, I believe we will be right back into sustained years of no rain; therefore, we need to develop long term plans that focus on conservation, storage & conveyance infrastructures.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?
That we develop & implement clear policies, funding & infrastructure to meet our and our children’s water needs in the future. 

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?
That development equals pressure on water needs; therefore, we should not increase storage or infrastructure.  “We don’t need more people.”  This will likely be the response of many, but it does not recognize the reality that our children might want to end up staying in Sonoma County.  In other words, development & more people is not the problem.  It may in fact be part of the solution, however.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?
That climate change, in our present situation, is the result of man’s activity.  Therefore, we can do something about it.  That where there is a will, there is a way.  By working together, we can solve this situation we are in with water.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?
Funding will be dedicated for increasing our infrastructure for storage & conveyance, & that incentives will be implemented to foster conservation.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years? How do you feel about that vision?
That Sonoma County will not only be able to meet its own needs in 20 years, but that it will have designed itself to provide for the needs of future growth in population & needs.   I feel optimistic.

Bill Williams - Grandchild due Christmas day

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?
The first step is education & leadership.  The second step is collaboration between the state and local government agencies. 

What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?
Answer the questions on this survey.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?
Clearer on its intent.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

My grandchild due Christmas Day..!!


 

 

 

 


 

Brittany Heck, Executive Director Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?
I have been a resident in Sonoma County for 13 years and it is a place I truly love.  I work in the southwest part of the county in the hopes of assisting landowners to protect and enhance their natural resources. 

How do you feel about this interview?
I don’t know how I feel about this interview.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?
As of today (Sept 23, 2014), we are in a drought that has people worrying and trying to plan for water scarcity in the present and into the future.

How do you feel about it?
I feel like we all have a great opportunity right now to use innovation and our collective energy to create a more secure water future for the whole county.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?
The worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County is that we leave a big mess for the future generation to clean up.

How do you feel about it?
I feel like I’d like to give a great amount of energy and attention to assisting our community to make plans for their water security in a way that doesn’t harm their neighbors, the future residents, or the environment.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?
Many minds have a greater chance of creating a solution or solutions that fit the most scenarios for the greatest benefit.  And that there is plenty of water for our food, our people & our natural environment.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?
Too litigious.  Too overwhelming.  Not enough funding.  Too many compromises.  Too scary.  Next year will be different.  Not my problem.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?
I don’t know or feel qualified to answer this question.  I feel solutions come from conversations where two or more people brainstorm ideas together.  No one person telling the other what is right or wrong.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?
We create forums to share and listen and try/test ideas and adapt as necessary.  Put energy/funding behind the actions that are already making positive changes. 

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?
Vision is for a county that is very knowledgeable about their water resources so they can make informed decisions about their responsibility & relationship towards water.  And that we all have enough, of course.

How do you feel about that vision?
I feel like my vision is practical & attainable. 

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?
First steps are already being taken.  This county has so many wonderful resources.

What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?
Continue the work that the RCDs are already doing, educating, learning, and implementing projects that balance & improve water for people, communities & wildlife.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?
Interested to see the outcome and honored to be a part of an interesting project like this one.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 
Field trip learning about salmon..!!

Field trip learning about salmon..!!

 


 

Bruce Berry, owner Berry’s Sawmill & Lumber Yard, Cazadero

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

Lifelong resident.

How do you feel about this interview?

Fine.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

Very short supply.

How do you feel about it?

Concerned.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

Rationing.

How do you feel about it?

Concerned and ready to make changes.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

Working together can bring many ideas and solutions.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Because it brings an outcome that citizens feel a loss of control and/or freedom.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

Learn from others so new solutions can be implemented.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Utilize grey water for agriculture and harvest water from rain gutters, for starters.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

Conserving water even in years of plentiful water will be the new norm.

How do you feel about that vision?

Good.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

Cast the vision regularly.

 What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

Finish my grey water project and harvest my gutters.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Fine.

We just finished cutting our year’s supply of firewood..!!

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

 We just finished cutting our year’s supply of firewood..!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Denny Rosatti, Executive Director, Sonoma County Conservation Action

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

I run an environmental nonprofit called Conservation Action.  I’ve lived here since 2002, for a short time in Santa Rosa, then 10 years in Camp Meeker, and recently in Sebastopol.  I love the spirit & nature of this county and many of the people & relationships I’ve found/formed here.

How do you feel about this interview?

I am excited about the interview and project.  Honored to have been asked to participate 

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

We’re in the third year of drought conditions.  When we get a small rain and bands play, pleople rejoice – it’s probably a problem!  (nice rain storm last night!)  I have seen, from a policy perspective, great strides in this county aimed at water conservation, beneficial reuse, and efficiency, but we have much more that we can do.  I think we’ve got major issues that we’ve only just begun to address – groundwater monitoring, septic issues in rural areas, riparian corridor protections, forest conversions, as examples.  I think there are great people in this county to help tackle these issues, but it will take political and community will and open-mindedness to arrive at sustainable solutions.

How do you feel about it?

I’m optimistic and distraught at the same time.  The drought brings the issue to the surface, so hopefully we can make some progress while the air is dry.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

 How do you feel about it?

The ultimate worst would be the wells/taps going dry.  I worry about how growth/new development can be sustained given our finite resources, especially in time of drought.  Housing is already very expensive and adding further fees for trucking in water or putting additional strain on existing utilities and watersheds is concerning.  I also worry about the “big balance” – Ag, fish, wildlife, industry, and people – being able to provide the adequate resources for each of these sectors without sacrificing too much for any one. 

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

“The big balance” is achieved or satisfied, and we find sustainability in our water balance or budget.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

The “impossibilities” are unlimited.  If we spend our time focusing on the “why nots,” we’ll probably regress vs. progress.  But having said that, it’s not always easy to find common ground, but in my experience, it’s almost always there somewhere.  We just have to commit to finding it as individuals, organizations, agencies, etc. 

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

We have to learn to listen and understand each other.  Sometimes that takes time and energy; it almost always requires patience.  We also have to be willing to try something new, not just comfortably fall into our usual patterns of distrust or allegiances.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Now these possibilities are more positively unlimited!  Researching divergent viewpoints.  Trying to figure out why does this person/group feel this way; what’s the history there; how did they arrive at this position or place?  Attend events or gatherings that are unusual for you, which can help enlighten or open doors to new thinking/people.  Again, be open-minded and willing to have discussions/conversations with divergent viewpoints.  Agree to civility – name calling, pointing fingers, etc., make it tough to cooperate.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

How do you feel about that vision?

I think it’s possible to be in balance.  I see groundwater recharge areas being conserved and valued and protected.  I see surface waters being embraced and honored, allowing ecology to works its magic.  I see swails, to capture and sink rainwater, becoming the norm, vs. the exciting new (or re-new) method.  Permeable pavement.  Bio swails.  Not allowing runoff to occur to the extent possible.  Sink rainwater on-site to store in the ground water table for later.  I see lots more capture of heavy storm waters by sinking and directing the groundwater recharge areas.  I see a thriving diversified agricultural community that embraces the natural features of the land, while, of course, maximizing the output of their farms without using toxic pesticides because the value of the water quality is higher.  Same with the “old pollution” of animal waste – it can and should be captured and used – for new organic fertilizer, for bio-reactors to create energy (renewable energy!).  I see permaculture oozing its way into systems thinking and design in a way that helps us gain the next advances in conservation, sustainability, and political harmony to the extent it can exist.  I also think there is an industrial/consumer awakening that is needed and I’m hopeful it’s coming – why do we accept single use plastics and items that quickly become “trash?”  As much as possible we need to eliminate the “triple packaging” of things and find less resource-intensive solutions.  Same for “known carcinogens” that are “allowable” – we’ve all dealt with loved ones getting cancer & disease.  Let’s eliminate cancer “upstream.” 

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

1st step – education and awareness.

 What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

It’s taken me nearly a lifetime of study, thought, experience, and personal interest to gain the knowledge I’ve collected/become aware of.  I think taking “digestible steps” is important, starting with your own behavior.  Then we can begin to look at others and at the system.  Taking on too much at once is often overwhelming.  But doing something is critical and accepting that we’re not really going to be “done” or “completed” with the project of sustainability is an important place to arrive at.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

It feels like a worthy endeavor.  I hope it invites the type of reflection that will help move our county forward in future years. 

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Where the redwoods, the Russian River, and Sonoma County meet the Pacific..!!

Where the redwoods, the Russian River, and Sonoma County meet the Pacific..!!

 


 

Efren Carrillo, Sonoma County 5th District Supervisor

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

Raised in Sonoma County; proudly 1st generation Sonoma Countian.  Relationship is one of love and strong belief that we live in the best place on earth.

How do you feel about this interview?

I feel comfortable with the interview, excited with the prospects of how it’s to be used, and curious as to what questions are to come next....

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

While I wouldn’t describe the situation today as a terrible crisis, there is concern (serious concern) with the ongoing drought condition we are experiencing, and potential negative consequences that are attributed to it.  The water situation also presents opportunities to be more thoughtful & engaged in water conservation, long term sustainability, & more mindful in general about our cherished natural resources.

How do you feel about it?

I feel that it is our current responsibility to ensure we do our very best in addressing the current challenges and prepare for the future unknowns.  I do feel conficent, however, that we have the appropriate tools & desires to work towards that end.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

The worst possible outcome is one we all fear, whereby we’ve depleted this invaluable resource to a point of no return & in turn harm our environment & economy.

How do you feel about it?

The immediate feeling is one of fear & grave concern to simply think about the worst possible outcome, let alone head in that direction.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

The best possible outcome in working together is one where we can sustain a long-term water supply, protect & enhance our entire watershed, & create a balance between competing interests.  This is a vision whereby our environment thrives, as does our local economy.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Those I hear:  Not enough water; too much regulation; not enough regulation; competing interests; money always wins; stubborness (“stuck in your ways”); climate change; “not enough science;” “science is flawed.”

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

Research & science based approaches.  There is enough room in the tent for everyone.  Additional regulation & environmental protection aren’t always bad/good.  We have the best opportunity at success when we address things locally.  Ability to listen, learn new things & trust those when in the past we haven’t.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Ongoing inclusion, open, transparent communication & dialogue.  Identify common goals & objectives & staying focused on the desired outcomes.  Path may not always be clear...

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

We will be prepared to make informed decisions to maintain a healthy water supply & the watershed we depend on, to fully understand the interconnectedness between surface & groundwater, & to be adaptive & responsive to climate change & sea level rise.  That we can live in balance/harmony with competing interests, and be able to adapt & change when necessary.

 How do you feel about that vision?

I feel encouraged that we have the necessary ingredients in place, and the recipe is still being created & drafted, but it will take many chefs to make this vision a reality.  I truly believe that, if we are to be successful, you need to have as many chefs in the kitchen as possible...

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

In Sonoma County, we have already taken the first step to realize our long-term vision in protecting our water supply , environment & natural resources.  We need to strategize & prioritize what we tackle first.

What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

In my role as a director of SCWA (Sonoma County Water Agency), continue to foster innovation in our agency as well as support creativity & stronger partnerships & collaborations.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Still feel very good about the interview & what it could mean in years to come.  Certainly hope what is learned & conveyed through this process is useful in bringing us closer together to address one of the most important issues of our time.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Mi familia..!!

Efren Carrillo Sonoma County 5th District Supervisor & Family

 


 

Grant Davis, General ManagerSonoma County Water Agency

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

As a father and husband and longtime resident of the County.  Current General Manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency.

How do you feel about this interview?

Curious about the final outcome of my interview as well as of those of the rest of my colleagues.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

We are in the third year of a drought.  Because of the hard work and dedication of many, we are in fairly good shape when compared with the rest of the state.  My primary concern at the moment is in the northern end of our watershed in communities that rely on Lake Mendocino, which is at the time I write this (9/26/14) about 27% of capacity (or 30,000 acre feet).  Lake Sonoma, the primary source of supply for most of your readership, is 61% of capacity (or about 149,000 acre feet of supply).

 How do you feel about it?

I am appreciative of our community and the water contractors responding to the important call to conserve.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

How do you feel about it?

Honestly, I do not want to consider that outcome, because the Sonoma County Water Agency was established to avoid that situation.  Since the last drought of record in 1976-1977, we built Warm Springs Dam (1983) and that reservoir provides multi-year water supply to the communities of Windsor south.  About the worst case scenario, that could involve relying on less than half the amount of water per person than we do today.  It could also involve having to truck drinking water to certain communities.  It is important to know that we are focused day in and day out on securing of future investment in our water resources, our environment, and our community 

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

Sonoma County has an ever more secure future.  Our water supply is sustainable and we are able to recover endangered fish that rely on our rivers and tributaries.  We will provide safe, reliable high quality water for our communities.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Folks may feel there is not enough water to meet all the current and future demands for water supply.  Folks may believe that important needs will go unmet if other needs are fully met.  Folks may feel we lack the political will to properly balance the many competing interests.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

That water is a precious resource that sustains us.  That water must be used and reused efficiently.  Investing in our natural resources will help secure our future.  We must develop alternative supplies of water, in addition to surface water.  We need to invest in recycled water, water conservation, groundwater management, and restoring our natural resources and fisheries. 

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

See my answer to number 6.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

How do you feel about that vision?

In 20 years, Sonoma County will have an even more secure future.  Our water supply will be durable and sustainable; our fisheries will be thriving; our communities will be efficient and healthy.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

Sonoma County will need to redouble our efforts to educate the current and future generations about the importance of our water supply; where it originates; and how we must use it wisely and efficiently.  We also need to continue to invest in the infrastructure and the delivery system and in protecting and restoring the watershed.

What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

Make sure that the new Westside Education Facility gets constructed this coming year and that the new fish screens and educational viewing gallery are also completed.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Hopeful and encouraged.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

 My wife Marci and my daughter Grace..!!

Grant Davis, Sonoma County Water Agency

 


 

Honore Comfort, Executive Director, Sonoma County Vintners

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

I’ve been a resident for almost 15 years, and as Executive Director of Sonoma County Vintners, I am a champion for the wines and wineries of this region.

How do you feel about this interview?

I am full of anticipation...

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?  How do you feel about it?

The water situation in Sonoma County is a concern for the long-term health and vitality of our community.  The time is right for us to be working collaboratively to find the solutions for our community access to water, to preserve and protect our resources.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?  How do you feel about it?

That we end up losing local control over our natural resources, and not creating a community-wide solution that preserves and protects this region for future generations.  I think this is one of the issues facing our community.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

Creating a means to work together to build a long-term plan for water management for Sonoma County, that serves the needs of our region, and also serves as a model for dialogue, collaboration, and community-based problem solving, which is something that Sonoma County would benefit from.  This region is so diverse, that it can be challenging to find the common threads that pull us together.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Conflicting interests from different sides of the water issue appear at odds, and finding the grounds for resolution can be extremely challenging and frustrating.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

To seek out information; to listen and engage in discussion; to work across functions and disciplines; to ask questions; to work towards solutions and engage in creative problem solving.  While some of this is already going on, with complex community issues such as water management, there is always room for more people to increase their understanding of the positions and issues at stake.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Multi-disciplinary or cross-functional teams will be an important piece in developing lasting solutions across interest groups.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

I see a healthy, vibrant community that protects its natural resources and has a strong and diverse economy.  Tourism, agriculture, and industry work together to support the future growth and development of the region and protect the natural beauty of our environment.  We have the basic framework for this vision, coupled with a deep commitment to our community, and a powerful sense of pride and of place.

How do you feel about that vision?

I feel that this vision can and will become a reality.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

The first step is pulling together people and leaders from different aspects of our community who share a strong commitment to realizing a future vision for Sonoma County.

What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

Participate in this interview project!

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Positive.  Curious to read the other responses.  Hopeful about the outcome.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

A beautiful fall morning..!!

Honore Comfort, Executive Director, Sonoma County Vintners

 


 

Tom Klein, Proprietor, Rodney Strong Wine Estates

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

My family owns Rodney Strong Vineyards.

How do you feel about this interview?

Good

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

Water is in short supply all over California.  Sonoma County is also impacted by the drought.

How do you feel about it?

I feel we all need to minimize our usage of water.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

Water wars.

How do you feel about it?

We can make more progress.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

Normal rainfalls return.  With our water usage curtailed voluntarily, we have plenty of water.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

I don’t know all the reasons.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

I don’t know.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

All users need to first understand the options for reducing water usage (at home, workplace. government) & then change their behaviors accordingly.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?  How do you feel about that vision?

Sonoma County is in a long term good place re water.  Population growth is under control.  Agricultural & industrial use is efficient & not wasteful.  Using grey water better is a real opportunity.

Tom Klein, Proprietor, Rodney Strong Wine Estates

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

Don’t know.

What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

We are looking at all locations we use water & trying to reduce amount used everywhere.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

OK

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Enjoying the view at my favorite vineyard, Rockaway, in Alexander Valley..!!

 

 

 


 

Susan Shaw, Director, North Bay Organizing Project (organization dedicated to leadership development and building power for change)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?  How do you feel about this interview?

I live and work here.  I am invested in the people and kind of society we are.  I want us to become a county that includes and cares for everyone who lives in it.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

The water situation is precarious.  Agriculture needs & uses water but it must be balanced with the needs of the environment and people.  We need to be more thoughtful & careful about our water.

How do you feel about it?

Worried.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

A few people controlling water in service of their interests, and the rest suffering for lack of access to water.

How do you feel about it?

Angry about the inequity.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

Inclusive, meaningful planning and decision making.  People in communities must build power and be at the table.  It has to be real.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

People will cite other people as not understanding or being educated (when they actually are).  Lack of transparency; imbalance of power; narrow self-interest; greed.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

A belief in the knowledge and skill of each other, especially people they do not usually know or interact with.  Behavior – develop a democracy that really works; real inclusion & decision making.  Seek out & follow leaders in communities that know how to work collectively.  Follow leaders who are already doing the work.  Invest in new leadership.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Relationships.  Listening.  Inclusion – looking for who is not at the table.  Asking why they have not been & changing the structure so that they will be.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

That we are a beautiful prosperous place.

How do you feel about that vision?

Moved & excited by who we are and how we become that place.  This is the work we have ahead of us.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?  What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

Invest in the people and their organizations who are already taking those steps/these steps.  There are plenty of them here.  Find out who they are and engage to create/change what matters to you.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Curious.


 

Joseph McIntyre, Executive Director, Ag Innovations Network

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

This is my home.  My children were born here.  My friends and family live here.  It is the connection of one heart to one place.

How do you feel about this interview?

Curious

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

California is in a historic drought and even the normally water abundant North Coast has not been spared.  I do not see us having a “situation” as much as ongoing opportunity to ask the question, how can we best shepherd the valuable resources nature provides.  This naturally and necessarily requires us to make choices, some of which challenge our current lifestyles or expectations.

How do you feel about it?

Engaged – water is a wonderful vehicle for us to have conversations about the Future of the County.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

Clearly the loss of available water – either surface or groundwater – has tremendous impacts on people and the environment.  Not managing water wisely will result in a poorer county on almost any scale you measure wealth and happiness on.

How do you feel about it?

Confident – our county has unique assets and efforts already working to assure a worst possible outcome does not occur.  The Santa Rosa Groundwater Planning process is one good example.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

We learn to manage water as a unique and complex system.  For example, today we manage surface water (lakes & streams) separately from groundwater (wells), yet these two resources are intrinsically connected.  Surface water percolates in the soils and becomes groundwater.  Many of the battles about water are by-products of not understanding this complex system more accurately.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Complexity – we don’t have the science to understand the system.  History – we have managed it this way in the past.  Regulatory – we are required to manage the system the way we do.  Rights – we have given out certain rights to individuals that cannot be changed.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

We are inevitably entering a period of resource limits.  There is a maximum amount of water Sonoma County can reliably count on in any given year.  We all will be challenged to learn how to live within different expectations about water.  It is not a resource that magically appears out of the tap.  This does not mean, however, everything must change overnight.  It does mean that all of us will have to take a role in becoming water stewards.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

We will all become very acquainted with conservation.  In urban areas, we will rethink landscaping choices and embrace re-use strategies such as grey water irrigation.  In rural and agricultural areas, similar innovations will (and are) occuring.  Techniques such as deficit irrigation will be used and substitutes for water-based frost protection will be explored.  Finally, we will look at our overall carrying capacity for new homes, new farms, and new businesses as water becomes a key limiting factor.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?  How do you feel about that vision?

A balanced water budget for both surface and groundwater.  This means we have balanced our water withdrawal in such a way as to keep our aquifers at a steady level and to keep our surface waters delivering the co-equal goals of providing for human needs, including agriculture, and to protect ecosystem services such as habitat, ground water recharge, recreation, and flood control.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?  What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

It is already happening.  Sonoma County is a leader in groundwater management planning.  Our citizens & business are working hard to manage water well.  What we all can do is think about conservation at home, at work, and on the farm and ranch.  Finally, we can rewrite the California water script.  Water is a public necessity and we should not allow the dialogue about Sonoma County water to be driven by narrow interests who want to divide us between conservation or business/agricultural interests.  This is a place where each of us can stand up as a leader and a peacemaker.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

It is a start.  The questions assume a coming battle.  I believe we can and will find a positive way through to shared water stewardship.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Nice picture of the Laguna in flood. A good reminder that it does and will again rain here..!!

Joseph McIntyre, Executive Director, Ag Innovations Network

 


 

E. Orlean Koehle, State President, Eagle Forum of California (political organization)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

Resident 32 years.

How do you feel about this interview?

Just fine.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

Personally, it has not affected me or my husband or neighbors.  We share a well with 13 other families.  It does not seem to be affecting our water level. 

How do you feel about it?

I feel very sad for those in the city limits who have had to greatly restrict their use of water and are being fined if they don’t.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

I would assume it would have to be as restricted as it was during the 1970s where people were put on quotas – and could not use water for lawns or gardens except very sparingly.

How do you feel about it?

I hope it will not come to that.  I am praying for lots of rain soon and during this winter.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

I suppose we in the rural areas who seem to still have plenty of water in our wells, could share with those inside the city limits if their source of water is totally drying up.  I have always believed in sharing when emergencies come.  The most important thing is to preserve life.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Some people might say “this is the government’s fault.  They should have provided more reservoirs to store water in times of drought.  Therefore, I am not going to do anything they tell me to do and fight all their policies.”  Others might say “this is my property & my water and no one has the right to dictate to me what I can or cannot do with it.”

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

People need to believe that life is sacred and the life of all humans needs to be preserved at all costs.  Therefore, in cases of emergency, they need to be willing to not be selfish with what they have and to share it with others.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

We need to have town hall meetings with elected officials telling us honestly what we are facing and what needs to be done in an organized and orderly fashion.  Divide the community up into sections where neighbors can help neighbors.  Appoint a leader over each neighborhood who can check on neighbors and make sure they are all right and assess their needs.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?  How do you feel about that vision?

Hopefully, we will have learned to work together for any future emergencies and to be well prepared to face them together as a united community.  I am hoping this water situation will not last.  Lots of good rains and better storage of water will help solve the drought.  But we will be better prepared to work together on earthquakes, etc.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

As I mentioned, we need leadership to help us get organized in neighborhood units.

What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

I can volunteer to help in my neighborhood or in any way that I can.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Just fine.  It made me think about some important things concerning our water problem.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Family at Christmas..!!

E. Orlean Koehle, State President, Eagle Forum of California

 


 

Tony Linegar, Agricultural Commissioner, Sonoma County

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

I am the Agricultural Commissioner, appointed 3 years ago, as well as a resident & parent of two school-age children.

How do you feel about this interview?

I think this interview is a way for people to get to know me & welcome the opportunity.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

We are in a dire situation, if the dry weather patterns persist. 

How do you feel about it?

I have concerns about the impacts of the drought on our ag industry & community, but believe we are taking appropriate steps to insulate ourselves from some of the impacts of drought.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

The worst outcome is not having enough water for basic human needs.  If conditions persist, we may have to sacrifice many of the things we take for granted.

How do you feel about it?

I feel concern yet believe there are things that we can do to lessen or mitigate the negative consequences.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

I think working together we can better prioritize the beneficial uses of water & work across barriers to solve our water problems.  Everybody must be willing to compromise.  We must think out of the box and reduce or remove hurdles to achieve a more sustainable water system.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

There is not agreement on what needs to be done to address our water problems.  Balancing the need for water between all affected users can be difficult because everyone sees their need as the higher priority.  Many people say that there are too many regulatory hurdles to achieve the best outcome.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

People need to completely change their mindset with regard to water.  We must recognize what a precious & necessary resource this is.  Raising personal awareness is key.  We may have to resort to regulation for those who “don’t get it.”  It may require that the cost of water increase to the point that people are forced to “pay attention.”

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Increased use of gray water & recycled water.   Drought tolerant landscaping.  More rain catchment systems for residential uses.  Relaxing regulatory hurdles to facilitate more storage for the state & on the farm.  Increased conservation efforts, particularly in residential use.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

I envision a county that has enhanced their water infrastructure to insulate from future droughts.  I see more farms with reservoirs to avoid diversion from fish-bearing streams during critical times.  I see fewer lawns & more drought tolerant landscape.  I see people with a greater awareness of how valuable water is.

How do you feel about that vision?

I feel good about it.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

We must reduce the regulatory hurdles & think outside of the box.  I think we all need to lead by example & be willing to say something to our neighbors who are not.

What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

Outreach & education is something we can do now to begin changing the mindset.

Tony Linegar, Agricultural Commissioner, Sonoma County

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

I feel as though I have spoken in broad general terms, and not given many specifics, but think that framing the issue in broad terms helps people realize the scope of the challenge that we face & hopefully helps to change the mindset with an eye to the future.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

My daughter and me at one of our favorite trails, Healdsburg Ridge, a property of the Ag and Open Space District..!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Ken Fischang, President & CEO, Sonoma County Tourism

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

One of love.  I care about our destination.

How do you feel about this interview?

I’m excited about this interview.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?  How do you feel about it?

Our water situation is a serious concern statewide.  Here in Sonoma County we are fortunate to still have water in our rivers and for our residents & visitors. 

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

Water rationing & water shortages that would significantly affect our quality of life and reduce our destination’s attractiveness to visitors.

How do you feel about it?

I feel that Sonoma County residents and businesses have reacted to reducing water usage.  I know that we have here at Sonoma County Tourism.  Our staff have utilized various recommended methods such as changing our landscaping at home to drought tolerant plants; eliminating lawns; keeping a bucket in the shower to capture water; re-using cooking water to water plants, to name a few.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

That we achieve water sustainability.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

People are often resistant to change.  They are not informed or have inadequate information to take the issue as seriously as they should.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

Conservation is not a dirty word.  Sustainability should be a key focus on how we do business and on decisions we make for our planet’s future.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

A well informed and incentified public can be very powerful.  Tracking Sonoma County’s progress towards resolving our water shortage & retraining behaviors can be a rewarding process.  If we are able to track progress and show the residents & visitors how they have made a positive impact, this will be motivational.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

Sustainable Sonoma County.  Our winegrowers have given themselves a 5 year goal to achieve 100% sustainability.  They are leading by example and Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma County Tourism are following their lead.  In August 2014, Sonoma County Tourism launched Sustainable Tourism Week to educate our hospitality industry partners on what they can do to improve sustainability practices in their respective businesses.

How do you feel about that vision?

I feel that there is power of many in one.  We must take this journey together.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?  What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

In addition to my answer to question #8, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors asked Sonoma County Tourism to launch a special “Rivers Campaign” this August (2014).  The purpose of the “Rivers Promotion” is to inform people in the Bay Area and in West Coast cities (where we have direct flights from, to Charles M. Shulz Sonoma County Airport: Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle & Portland), that we are open for business and our rivers are flowing.  Often when a crisis emerges, misinformation occurs.  Yes, the state of California has a serious water shortage, but some places are better than others.  We need to keep visitors informed that we have water in our rivers (Russian, Petaluma & Gualala) and that they can enjoy the same type of recreation there today as they could last year or the years before that.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Good.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Sunset at Bodega Head, Sonoma County..!!

Ken Fischang, President & CEO, Sonoma County Tourism

 


Stephen Fuller-Rowell, Sonoma County Water Coalition

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?How do you feel about this interview?

Co-founder of Sonoma County Water Coalition and facilitator.  I appreciate being able to help coordinate the efforts of so many people with such a wide range of knowledge & skills.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

Sonoma County faces many challenges with respect to water quantity and quality.  Despite many political challenges, those with the knowledge and understanding to meet these challenges are actively involved in finding solutions.

How do you feel about it?

I am optimistic.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

If water quantity issues are not addressed, creeks will continue to go dry, groundwater levels will fall, species will disappear, and economic impacts will be felt.  If water quality issues are not addressed, there will be further impacts on species & human health problems will increase.

How do you feel about it?

I have no intention of sitting on the sidelines and allowing these outcomes to occur.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

Unless we work together, it is unlikely that there will be positive outcomes.  Issues are complex with many stakeholders with conflicting interests.  The best outcome would be for water supply and demand to be in balance, groundwater levels would be stable, creeks would see their historic flows returned, fish would thrive, and agriculture would be productive.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Some people see self-interest (and greed?) as the main obstacle to finding mutually beneficial solutions to our challenges.  There may be an interest mis-match between short-term corporate objectives and the need for long-term environmental stewardship.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

People will need to recognize and acknowledge the contribution of natural capital to their economic success.  To steward natural capital requires the ability to work with others and to appreciate interconnectedness.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Those with knowledge & understanding must be willing to engage in collaborative process, and never be unwilling to speak up and take action to ensure that vital issues are considered and resolved.  Apathy is not an option.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

See my answer to Question 4.!!

How do you feel about that vision?

I would be happy to be alive in Sonoma County if these outcomes were to be realized.

Stephen Fuller-Rowell, Sonoma County Water Coalition

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

The first steps have already been taken.  Groundwater management planning processes are under way.  Policies to keep creeks flowing are being worked out.  And the EPA is starting to take new threats to water quality seriously.

What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

For my part, I will continue to help ensure that initial progress towards solutions continues.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

It’s a pleasure to be asked questions that require a broader view of issues than is the norm.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Cool, clear water.  Mark West Creek in 2005.

 

 

 

 


 

John Crowley, owner, Aqus Café, Petaluma

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

Home.

How do you feel about this interview?

Honored to be considered as a boundary spanner.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

It is dire and will get worse.

How do you feel about it?

1. Needs to be reported more.  2. Needs to be resolved before it gets to be a big problem.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

If not resolved, people & businesses will be forced to relocate.  It is an issue our supervisors need to address.

How do you feel about it?

Frustrated by the lack of long term planning.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

We can continue to live in Sonoma County.  Also that our ag business can thrive.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

1. Lack of empathy.  2. Greed.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

1. Change in values.  2. What is wealth?  Is it measured in terms of money or in quality of community?  3. Belief change: that there is enough for all.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

(1.) Policy change at Supervisor level.  (2.) Promote co-ops/different forms of governance.  (3.) “Practice” on smaller issues to change our day to day ways of dealing with “problems.”

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

(1.) Not just water issue.  (2.) I see SoCo as being a model with a more equitable society that will be a safer, happier, healthier community.

How do you feel about that vision?

The seeds of community are already sprouting in SoCo.  The idea of creating something new is already happening.  People are not sure exactly what it looks like but they know that we need to move away from the old paradigms and invent new practices.  The old ways have not served us well.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

(1.) Realize that environmental change is inevitable.  (2.) Realize that old ways of governance will not work.  (3.) Look at different “methods” of cooperation & problem solving.

What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

Start a series of talks on new way of governance.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Don’t like the writing.  Do like the thought-provoking subject matter.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

A mixer at the Aqus Café – representing the willingness of people to sincerely connect with each other to build community..!!

John Crowley, owner, Aqus Café, Petaluma

 


Noreen Evans, California State Senator, Senate District 02 (retired)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

I lived here since 1982, but I grew up along the North Coast.

How do you feel about this interview?

Intriguing.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

It is pretty dire.

How do you feel about it?

Every crisis offers an opportunity, so I am hopeful we will use this chance to find sustainable solutions.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?  How do you feel about it?

We will run out of water and it will polarize our community.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

That we identify an array of approaches to reduce & make more efficient our water use so urban areas & ag users can co-exist.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Costs too much money:  this is usually the excuse used to preserve the status quo.  Taxes will go up.  It won’t work.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

We need long-term thinking and the willingness to talk things through and understand others’ challenges & points of view.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

The best way to solve problems is to bring stakeholders & community representatives together to talk through issues & find solutions they can all support.  This takes time & commitment.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?  How do you feel about that vision?

We would have ways to reduce water use, capture urban run-off & re-use urban water.  We would have small storage ponds available for agriculture.

Noreen Evans, California State Senator, Senate District 029.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?  What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

Things will likely get worse before they get better.  People will need to agree they must work together to create common solutions.  Most often, people need to see a looming crisis before they are compelled to take action.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Hopeful.  I think we have solutions but the community is not yet ready to try to develop them.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Fort Ross – one of my favorite places..!!

 

 

 

 


 

Jane Nielson, PhD, Secretary, The O.W.L. Foundation (Open Space, Water Resource Protection & Land Use)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

Resident

How do you feel about this interview?

Neutral

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

Dire

How do you feel about it?

I feel a foreboding because people do not seem to know how to deal with drought, and are unaware of the potential for very bad times ahead (if no rain comes).

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

Dewatering of aquifers; depopulation.

How do you feel about it?

We are a long way from this now, but we need to wake up!

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

Implementing real conservation policies for water and land.  Preserving open spaces and forests that we now have.  Preserving riparian areas especially.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Financial interests.  Belief in the sacred nature of private property rights.  Individualism (see above).  Lack of knowledge, especially of history and science.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

I wrote a book about this – The American West at Risk (Oxford University Press, 2008).  Change paradigms.  Change religions – worship the Earth.!  Care about the future.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Changes modes of evaluating land uses – from County PRMD (Permit & Resource Management Department) to landowners and even squatters.  For example, change permitting systems.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?  How do you feel about that vision?

Community-government partnerships would examine all land use plans, and suggest changes that preserve land stability & water supplies.  County processes would require precise scientific evaluations and outside-County reviews before granting permits.  The groundwater management processes are a beginning but there is no obvious reason yet for people involved to see this as a step toward rational management.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?  What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

First steps are already taken – community organizations raising issues, submitting comments on county plans and input to ordinances.  Can we make it happen?  Not yet.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

Not sure.  Good aim but more partners needed – partners who understand base issues.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Mouth of the Russian River at Jenner

Jane Nielson, PhD, Secretary, The O.W.L. Foundation


 

Kara Heckert, Executive Director, Sonoma Resource Conservation District

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

Sonoma County is where I built my family.

How do you feel about this interview?

I really hope that all these interviews achieve the goal they were set out to meet.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?   How do you feel about it?

Water situation is under stress.  Water situation is creating an opportunity for awareness about conservation.  Potential challenges to the livelihoods of many.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?  How do you feel about it?

May create a situation that causes more division among different water users and increases conflict about land use.  The stakes are high for agriculture and our environment.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

Pro-active solutions can be created when we all realize that the majority of people want the same things.  Effectively managing our water resources now will help us for many generations.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

People may think that politics and money have pre-determined the way our natural resources are managed.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

Decision makers and leaders can help with making balanced decisions for our water use that assist all facets of our population, whether urban, rural, agricultural, or the natural environment.  People on opposite sides of the fence need to reach over to the other side to have a better understanding of the facts.  “We all live in a watershed” and we are in it together.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Voluntary programs and incentives have a proven track record of success and we need wider spread opportunities for those throughout the county.  Greater dialogue with diverse groups of folks that have a desire to build a consensus around water use could be very productive.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

My vision would be for balanced land uses in the county and preservation of our agricultural community and our natural habitat.  A wholistic approach needs to be taken for watershed & water management that provides and improves resources of existing uses.

How do you feel about that vision?

I feel the vision is achievable if the community at large changes the perception of “us vs. them.”

Kara Heckert, Executive Director, Sonoma Resource Conservation District9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

Convening pro-active groups in each watershed around the issues of water resource management is something very simple that could be implemented.  This could go a long way in creating a better understanding of each other’s perspectives. 

What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

The RCD is a resource hub and we work on both sides of the fence and with a lot of people that don’t have a voice at the table.  We could assist in bringing groups together around this dialogue where it’s not already happening.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

It was challenging but it got me thinking!

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

My son and daughter..!!

 

 


Wendy Krupnick, VP, North Coast Chapter, Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF)

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

Resident

How do you feel about this interview?

Interested, open, honored

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

Scary.

How do you feel about it?

Frightened, worried, frustrated, angry.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

Many areas run out of water.  Wildlife & habitat destruction.

How do you feel about it?

Sad, frightened, disappointed.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

All “stakeholders” – i.e., water users – learn to conserve & regenerate water-enhancing natural systems.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

Loss of lifestyle.  Loss of income/livelihood.  Political stance.  Belief in private ownership/right.  Inability to exchange ideas.  Lack of understanding of dependence on natural systems.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

Cooperation.  Understanding of natural systems & all life’s dependence on them.  Replace concepts of “growth” & “progress” that require expanding use of resources, with an integrated world view where all parts enhance & regenerate the whole & where quality of life is more important than volume.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Facilitated discussion where people’s values & fears are shared.  Working examples of positive alternative systems are promoted.  People are willing to forge new partnerships.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

No idea.  I feel that all bets are off with climate change.  My hope is that riparian corridors are restored & enhanced; vineyards diversify; there are zero lawns that are not actively used; composting toilets are the norm; there are mini biological water recycling facilities all over; oak trees & other native vegetation are regenerating; vegetables are growing in community gardens in every urban neighborhood.

How do you feel about that vision?

I love this vision!

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

Many steps are happening now to promote solutions in SoCo.  A big limiting factor to our efforts is ego and purist confirmity to one’s ideas.  We need to broaden our understanding & acceptance of those from “other” cultures & hear what we can learn from every one.

What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

I can keep trying to build bridges amongst groups & find words to help people be more open to others.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

A little challenging for me, not being a very quick thinker, and not feeling very articulate this morning.  But very important subjects.  Will be interested in the outcome(s).

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.” 

Farms, friends and music..!!

Wendy Krupnick, VP, North Coast Chapter, Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF)


 

Vesta Copestakes, Publisher, Sonoma County Gazette

1.   What is your relationship to Sonoma County?

It’s my home, so I could say it’s my family.  I belong here in a way that no other place has felt.  I feel embraced and connected.

How do you feel about this interview?

No feelings at all – neutral.

2.   As you see it, what is the water situation in Sonoma County right now?

Conflicted: on the one hand, our resources are seriously limited with no real indication that this drought will end.  Yet everywhere there is evidence that people don’t understand our limitations – lawns where no one sits, etc.

How do you feel about it?

I feel angry.

3.   What is the worst possible outcome of not confronting the water situation in Sonoma County?

We run out – no agriculture – bad for business – hostile environment for survival – reservoirs do not recharge in winter – groundwater does not recharge.

How do you feel about it?

I feel anger – when will people make the connection from water to actions and consequences.

4.   What is the best possible outcome of working together to confront the water situation in Sonoma County?

Aside from better water management, we see each other’s perspectives and needs – compassion – understanding.  We meet the people having completely different perspectives and opinions.

5.   What are all the reasons people will give that it is impossible to achieve the best possible outcome?

That our differences are so great that we will never be able to agree or even compromise.

6.   What are the new beliefs and behaviors folks will need to learn in order to make the best possible outcome happen?

Respect for each other whether we even like someone, let alone agree with them.  Treat others as you wish to be treated.

7.   What are strategies and actions that will reflect those new beliefs and behaviors and make the best possible outcome happen?

Repeat the message over and over.  Live your own personal philosophy, so you are living/acting your message.

8.   If folks work together now to confront the water situation in Sonoma County, what is your vision of Sonoma County in 20 years?

Clean tributaries & rivers.  Clean lakes, which are full.  Clean air.  A balance of food and vineyard agricultural products.  Controlled development based on water available.  Clear laws and rules re: water use.

How do you feel about that vision?

I feel it is possible.

9.   What is the first step that will need to be taken to realize that vision?

Laws.  Fines for violating water laws.  High prices for water so it has the real value attached to cost. 

What is something that you can do right now to make that vision happen?

Publish articles, continuing the conversation.

10.  How do you feel about this interview now?

You’re fine.  It’s fine.  Keep going.

11.  Please take a picture that says “This is the thing that means the most to me about my life in Sonoma County.”  

This is HOME for our FAMILIES - where we connect with each other on profound levels just sharing the same space and time - nothing is more precious to me than home and family

Vesta Copestakes, Publisher, Sonoma County Gazette